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Concerns continue over services for Florida’s ‘most vulnerable’ students

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The Florida State Board of Education adopted new rules relating to services for students with significant cognitive disabilites during a meeting June 10, 2021, in Jacksonville.
The Florida State Board of Education adopted new rules relating to services for students with significant cognitive disabilites during a meeting June 10, 2021, in Jacksonville. [ The Florida Channel ]
Published Nov. 10, 2021

Amid all the hoopla over masks and race, many Floridians missed the State Board of Education’s adoption of a rule altering eligibility requirements for students with significant cognitive disabilities to learn with alternate standards and testing. After the rule gained publicity, the outcry grew. State education officials stepped up to quell the upset. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

The officials said they never intended to take services from the children. The Department of Education plans to clear up any misconceptions over a State Board of Education rule that critics say appears to declare some of the students ineligible for some academic supports. Some district educators added that the latest documents coming out of the department seemed to counter the officials’ statements.

Coronavirus concerns

Hillsborough County migrant students struggled more than most during the pandemic. Advocacy programs are helping them find success.

The federal government wants to stop the Florida Department of Education from withholding federal grant money from school districts with strict mask mandates. The State Board of Education has called a special meeting for Nov. 16 to discuss what to do about it, the News Service of Florida reports.

Meanwhile, districts are walking away from those mandates. Miami-Dade County students will be able to opt out starting Wednesday, the Miami Herald reports. • Broward County followed suit, with its opt-out policy to begin Nov. 20, WPLG reports. • The Alachua County School Board scheduled a special meeting for today to discuss its masking policies, Main Street Daily News reports. It is the only remaining district without an opt-out provision in its rule.

The Leon County school district withdrew from the ongoing legal challenge of the state’s school mask rules. Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the district will look for “other avenues to advocate for home rule and local control,” WCTV reports.

The Polk County school district purchased thousands of desk shields in October to help prevent virus spread. It announced Tuesday it will begin removing the shields from schools next week.

Employee pay

St. Lucie County non-instructional staff will get 3 percent pay increases. Teacher contract negotiations have not been settled, WPTV reports.

The Brevard County School Board offered teachers a $1,500 bonus during negotiations. It rejected a request for permanent raises, Florida Today reports.

The Sarasota County school district offered its teachers bonuses instead of raises. Union leaders said they were ”disgusted” by the proposal, the Herald-Tribune reports.

A magistrate issued his recommendations after an impasse hearing over Orange County teachers’ contract talks. He agreed that the district can’t pay big raises, but suggested it should provide longevity supplements the most veteran faculty, the Orlando Sentinel reports. (Subscription required)

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Other school news

The Pinellas County School Board has a new chairperson. The vote was not unanimous.

The Indian River County school district has permanently removed the book All Boys Aren’t Blue from a school library because of sexual content. It is reviewing additional titles that the Mom for Liberty group also complained about, WPEC reports.

The Bay County School Board agreed on new lines for member districts. They matched the county commission’s map, WMBB reports.

The University of Florida’s new task force on academic began its work Tuesday. It will work to answer two questions about professors’ ability to testify in lawsuits, the Miami Herald reports.

From the police blotter ... An Oviedo High School student faces four charges stemming from a gun scare at the school’s homecoming dance, WKMG reports. • A Miami-Dade County high school teacher was arrested on allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student, WSVN reports.

From the court docket ... A Black Alachua County family has sued a Gainesville private school, alleging racial discrimination, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Halloween is all fun and games, until the makeup doesn’t come off. Been there? At least this British family had a good time at the party.

@chloesullivan64

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♬ Oh No - Kreepa

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